Driving my scooter in traffic has been a very edifying experience.
The traffic rules are the basic dharma system that I can test myself on. When there is a red light I need to wait. Often when signal has just turned red, I can see the vehicles in front of me jump the signal. When there is not much traffic in the other directions, often the vehicles behind me honk, drivers behind me abuse, etc. asking me to jump the signal. Often when I am in a hurry to go to a place, there will be a red signal with not much cross traffic. Withstanding all these temptations from inside and pressure from outside is a great training of the will power to stick to dharma. This will power comes handy facing other lures and coercions in life.
The traffic on the road is a very good reflection of the state of my mind. If I see that the traffic is in disarray and everyone going in all wrong directions, then I know that my mind is not as calm as it has to be. If I feel irritated at people going slower than me or at a red signal, I take it as an indication that something is wrong with my mind. On days when my mind is calm, I would see no problem though the traffic may be much more than on other days.
Another thing that driving trains me is to focus. Whatever be the beautiful scenery, advertisements, etc. my eyes and mind should be on the road. Especially when I am driving my car with family, they would be talking of the various sights outside. But I cannot turn my head or remove my eyes off the road. This is a great exercise for the mind. This is a lesson in life to keep focussed on my priorities.
The bumper to bumper traffic and long waits at red signals are a good test of patience. It also gives opportunity to watch the mind. Does it enjoy the deep blue sky of the impending sunset? Does it savor the model on the lipstick advertisement? Does it watch the sleeping infant in the hands of the mother sitting in the pillion of the scooter in front? Does it keep humming a song heard recently? Does it keep telling japa?
Occasionally when my scooter gets whisked away by police for parking in a wrong place, stopped by police for taking a wrong turn at a wrong place or time, etc., the way my mind faces it is a great opportunity to see how mature it has become.
I love walking slowly on a zebra crossing in front of a line of huge city buses and other traffic when it is red for them and green for me. Of course I can dare to do it only when there are policemen around. These huge buses that can crush the life out of this body effortlessly need to wait because of the rules. This usually reminds me of the statement “dharmo rakshati rakshitah” – “Dharma protects those who follow it”. It also reminds me of the situation in Ramayana. When Rama fights with Ravana, Ravana fights from a powerful chariot. Rama fights standing on the ground. The devas offer a chariot saying that he is standing on the ground. Rama replies, “I am standing on dharma. I am sure to win. Don’t worry.”
The hundreds of hours I have spent in the city traffic have been very edifying and elevating. I love driving.